MS in Engineering or MBA?

A reader recently asked my advice about best graduate school direction for someone interested in pursuing a marketing research / business strategy career in the manufacturing sector. This particular reader had a BS degree in Chemical Engineering and a couple of years of marketing experience in the chemicals / plastics industry.

The question is “MS or MBA?” to complement an undergrad engineering degree – and the answer is not an easy one. It boils down, I think, to making some subjective judgments about which degree will confer upon you the most credibility and stature among the industry audience you’re trying to influence. In US industry, I sense that (predominantly MBA educated) managers have a substantial bias against the technical degree. Perhaps in other geographies – India, for instance – the MS might carry more prestige.

In a large sense, my experience and intuition suggest that the degree is ultimately less important than the would-be marketer’s curiosity, openness to new ideas and new approaches to business, and sensitivity to the motivations and intentions of key players in the marketplace.

What do you think about the MS vs MBA issue? I’m prepared to be proven wrong on this, but I think those of us in the MR trade should pass on some of our hard-earned wisdom to those entering the profession.

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4 Responses to “MS in Engineering or MBA?”

  1. Priya says:

    Obviously MBA.

  2. Bob Brothers says:

    Obviously, Priya? Why do you say ‘obviously’?

  3. Selena Passeno says:

    I am facing the same deliema with a MS in Finance or a MBA. Very unsure which route to take, already have a MGT degree so….the next question for your reader would be. What opens more doors for them? I am not sure of the differences between the two so can only fall back on….To be MBA or not to be that is the question….?

  4. Bob Brothers says:

    If you have not seen it, this post …
    http://market-intel.com/blog/2009/06/01/updated-ms-vs-mba/
    summarizes many of the comments I’ve received. I hope they will help you decide what is best for you.

    Almost everyone agrees about the value of an advanced degree, although one commentor suggested that the added value of an advanced degree may not compensate for losing 2 years of on-the-job experience and seniority.

    And almost everyone agrees that the choice of advanced degree is quite personal – tied more to your skills, interests and career direction, than to the intrinsic value of one degree or another. I hope the comments here will help you decide – and help you feel more confident in your decision.

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